Nutrition program for dementia debuts

Fresh Bites from Unidine debuted this fall as a comprehensive nutrition program designed for memory care patients.

The company developed the Fresh Bites program over 18 months of research and testing, with a specific focus on what residents with dementia would eat. The fresh food culinary approach allows dense, bite-sized meals for dementia residents. The meals help reduce weight loss and can be eaten without utensils, the company said.

“We heard from our senior living clients that weight loss and the inability to eat independently was often a catalyst for dementia disease progression. So we began working on a solution that would increase nutritional intake and provide a more dignified approach to dining for memory care patients,” explained Unidine CEO Richard B. Schenkel.

The team focused on visual menus, appetizing aromas, brightly colored serving plates and techniques to help maintain the natural reflex of self-feeding.

The program uses ingredients that include rice paper, polenta, potato cups and cucumber slices to create vessels and wraps. Unidine's memory care dining program development began as a collaboration with Integrace-Copper Ridge, a Unidine client and memory care community in Sykesville, MD.

Foods are warm, but cool enough to hold. They are without dry fillings and also can be offered from a nurse station rather than the dining room.

“Before Fresh Bites, menu choices for memory care were often limited to sandwiches and chicken fingers, or facilities would cut up regular menu item foods. We found that miniature versions of foods are more stable and our clients have told us that the variety in our menu cycles changes the whole experience,” Schenkel said.